Dungeons & Dragons Marathon: Chronicles of Mystara Review

I remember when arcades were something special, back when they were a fun excursion for people who just wanted to dump some quarters on a video-game. Arcades were one of my favorite things growing up, mostly due to how much time I spent in them. I’d spend several quarters on a single game, just in an attempt to see how far I’d get. One of the biggest quarter drainers for me were “Beat-Em-Up” games, which involved the player fighting through levels filled with hordes of easily beatable mooks.

Capcom seemed to be the king when it came to beat-em-ups, since they made so many of them back in the day. You had classics like Alien Vs. Predator, Knights of The Round, Captain Commando, and The King of Dragons! However, there were a pair of beat-em-ups that I felt were way better than all the rest. I’m of course talking about the classic “Dungeons & Dragons” arcade games!

Originally released in the 90s, these two games served as arcade interpretations of the classic D&D board-game. Now, I’m going to be doing things a bit differently for this review. While normally I would review these games separately, I felt like I should review them as a collective package. After all, the second game is basically just the first game with a different story, some new classes, and several new areas.

So, let’s tackle the “Chronicles of Mystara” games: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. The two games take place in the eponymous land of “Mystara”, which is one of the original settings for Dungeons & Dragons. Both arcade games plunge you into a fantasy world, and have you do battle against hordes of evil creatures. The two games feature typical fantasy stories, which are filled with typical fantasy characters. The game plays like your average beat-em-up game, but with a twist.

The game adds in RPG mechanics, as well as some rules from the board-game to spice things up. There are a lot of neat little touches, like The Beholder’s ability to block a magic user’s spell-casting abilities. I also liked that the game had a leveling up system, as well as abilities that can only be used a certain amount of times per level. There’s also an item shop available at the end of each level, allowing players to spend the coins they earned on a random smattering of items.

The Mystara games are best played with multiple people, as they were built from the ground up with multiplayer in mind. It’s fun to team up with your friends and fight back the endless onslaught of goblins, owlbears, and magic-wielding elves. One of the games’ most impressive features is the “branching paths” the story takes, which was something most arcade games didn’t have.

Making certain choices in the game result in the player advancing through different levels, collecting rare and legendary items, or fighting new enemies. This gives the relatively short arcade games a fair bit of replay value. Sure, the choices don’t drastically change what happens in the game, but the variety they add is much appreciated.

Speaking of choices, the game offers a wide variety of playable characters. While the first game only had 4 character classes, the sequel upped it to 6. While most characters play near identically to each other, they all boast different abilities that set them apart. For example, Clerics can use healing spells and buff the party, Magic-Users can assault enemies with attack spells, etc.

There’s enough variety here to make the six characters feel unique, while also making them equally efficient in combat. Regardless of their abilities, every character will still primarily focus on hacking away at enemies with their weapon. Let’s move on to the games’ graphics and sound, which have aged remarkably well.

Despite the fact that these games came out in the 90s, their 2D graphics have aged very well. The soundtrack is also fantastic, while boasting some of the catchiest tunes in Capcom history. If I have any complaints about this game at all, it would be that the PC version is pretty bad.

This was the version of the game I played the most, and its lacking in several departments. You can’t change most of the controller bindings, the graphic options are terrible, and overall it’s just a bad port. That being said, the console versions of the game are much better in every aspect.

If you’re one of the people who never grew up on the original arcade games, I highly recommend trying out the console ports. The game is pretty easy to find in digital storefronts, while also being fairly cheap. If you want an arcade game that marries the old-school RPG elements of tabletop D&D with arcade goodness, then this is certainly the game for you!

 

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Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Review

If there’s anything I’ve learned from nearly 4 years of writing, it’s that creativity is king. Making something that’s successful is always a plus, but you always want to make sure that what you make isn’t generic. This isn’t always easy, as balancing both creativity and money is a difficult thing. That’s why companies will often put out bland cookie-cutter projects, because it’s just easier than gambling on something new.

That’s why “Goichi Suda” will always be the king of creating unique gaming experiences. For those of you who don’t know, Goichi Suda is a game developer known for creating truly insane and wacky gaming experiences. Going by the name of “Suda 51”, he has created many games with the help of his development team, “Grasshopper Manufacture”.

Suda’s most popular series would have to be “No More Heroes”, which revolves around a nerdy assassin named “Travis Touchdown”. The first game centered around Travis’ climb to the top of the “League of Assassins”, because he wanted to become number 1 and have sex with some lady named “Sylvia”. That’s the general setup of the game, but the story gets a lot more interesting than that.

Despite the game’s bosses only showing up once each, they all have unique and interesting personalities. They were all entertaining in their own right, which made Travis’ interactions with them all the more engrossing. No More Heroes was a surprise hit, one that got many off-guard. No More Heroes’ unique and stylish gameplay, coupled with its amazing cell-shaded graphics won over the hearts of so many gamers.

Despite the fact that Suda had never planned on making a sequel to it, he just couldn’t ignore fan demand. This resulted in “No More Heroes: Desperate Struggle”, a rather divisive sequel. It was a sequel that streamlined elements of the first game, while offering a different story with a similar premise to the first game.

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Jeane can talk?! A TALKING CAT?! THAT’S LUDICROUS!

Acting as a pastiche on revenge stories, Desperate Struggle told the story of Travis’ return to the world of murder. After his best friend is killed, Travis revisits the life he left behind in order to kill all those responsible. The game just wasn’t as interesting as the first one was, feeling more like filler than anything else.

The gameplay wasn’t as varied as the first game, and the ending left a lot to be desired. That brings us to the newest game, which is “Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes”. Being a spinoff of sorts, we are once again thrown into the bloodstained shoes of Travis Touchdown. In said game, Travis finds himself in possession of a mysterious game console known as the “Death Drive MK II”.

While trying to uncover the mysteries of the console, he ends up being attacked by a psycho named “Badman”. Wanting revenge for Travis killing his daughter nearly a decade prior, Badman attempts to murder Travis in cold blood. Before he can do so, the two are sucked into the console itself and find themselves being sent on a journey through various video-games.

The premise is pretty simplistic, though the game does things to spice it up quite a bit. For example, this entire game is just one big giant crossover. It’s actually impressive how much of Suda’s library he shoved into this one game, all just to establish some kind of “shared universe”. I’d discuss the crossover aspect more, but I want to save it for a separate blog post. Don’t worry, I’ll get into more detail on it soon!

Regardless, it’s something that does add to the enjoyment factor of the game. Something that I was mixed on at first was the lack of voice acting, which took some getting used to. The little voice-acting the game had was saved for cinematic cut-scenes, resulting in most of the game relying on written dialogue to tell its story. This isn’t so bad, due in large part to the presentation being pretty solid.

The game presents a lot of its story in two ways: Weird little “Confession” sequences featuring Travis’ inner-thoughts, and “Visual Novel” sequences featuring Travis’ adventures to find the mystical “Death Balls”. While these two segments tend to be mostly disconnected from each other, they do both help in advancing both the story and world. On top of this, they both have a rather nice look to them.

I especially love the Visual Novel sequences, due to them using graphics that wouldn’t be too out of place on an old Apple computer. In short, I found the story to be entertaining, despite its limitations. Let’s move on to the gameplay, which I feel is pretty good overall. Travis Strikes Again features the hack-and-slash gameplay of its predecessors, but with some notable changes. For one thing, the game likes to shift perspectives quite a bit.

You could start out a level from a third-person perspective, only to shift into an isometric view, right before being given a side-scrolling perspective. Thankfully, this constant shifting of perspectives never gets annoying or tiring. It helps keep the game fresh and is an interesting design choice.

What also adds to the gameplay are the RPG elements it introduces. You can level up your character, while also equipping them with various “skill chips”. There are many of these chips scattered throughout the game, and all of them offer many different abilities. Some allow you to heal, shoot lightning at your enemies, or stun your foes. The variety is staggering and it allows for a bit of experimentation.

Speaking of experimentation, this is the first game in the series to have multiplayer. 2 people can take control of both Travis and Badman simultaneously, allowing for some fun co-operative gameplay. What makes this especially fun is the fact that players can hit each other with their attacks without damaging them. This means that you have to be careful with your attacks, or else you’ll hit your teammate and knock him out of a combo.

There are also new gameplay styles aside from the hacking and slashing, such as racing and an Asteroids-like mini-game. I found the racing mini-game to be quite fun, at least once I got the hang of it. The Asteroids section was also fun, even though I suck pretty bad at that game.

However, there’s one gameplay style that just does not work at all: The platforming sections. I’m not sure where Suda’s obsession with putting platforming segments in No More Heroes started, but it needs to stop. The platforming requires a lot of waiting, weird timing, and awkward trial-and-error gameplay.

Another issue I had was with the second level, which had some alright flip puzzles. It’s entertaining, up until a giant blue skull starts chasing you around the level. One touch from the skull would instantly kill you, resulting in a lot of unnecessary running around in an attempt to not die. This part got tedious real fast!

Other than the two parts I mentioned, there wasn’t much wrong with the gameplay. The hack-and-slashing was fun, albeit repetitive. The large amount of skills you could get gave you many options to approach combat with, while the various T-Shirts you could buy gave you an incentive to collect every coin you could find.

One thing I didn’t like was the lack of content. There are only seven levels in the game, and it’ll take you roughly 7-10 hours to beat everything. To be fair, there is a New Game+ mode, collectibles, and 4 difficulties to toy around with. Sadly, it’s nowhere near the amount of things there is to do in the first 2 games.

If you were to play through the game on each difficulty, collect everything, and do the optional “find Jeane” missions, then you could easily get 20-30 hours out of the game. I just wish there was more meaningful side-content, like the “Assassination Missions” in the first game.

Overall, I do think the game-play is pretty entertaining. It’s got flaws, but it doesn’t detract from the overall package too much. Let’s move onto the game’s sound and graphics next, which is its strongest asset. The game looks pretty damn solid, most of the time. As usual, the cut-scenes for the game are gorgeous.

Character designs are fantastic, and the cell-shaded visuals are amazing as usual. Unfortunately, the game likes to zoom out the action a lot, so you sadly won’t get to see the finer details most of the time. The in-game models could also use some polish, especially on Badman. I swear, his hair looks like stray pixels most of the time! The music and sound-effects are fantastic, and really evoke the feel of the first two games.

My favorite song in the whole game had to be “Eight Hearts’ Theme”, due to it being this trippy Japanese rap song. A lot of the game’s songs are just as unbelievably catchy, which isn’t too out of the norm for a Suda 51 game. Even the lounge-like music that plays while you’re at the trailer is awesome! The last thing I’ll touch on is the voice-acting, which is phenomenal. Despite their being very little actual voice-acting in the game, all of it is done really well. Having the original voice-cast return is a definite plus, and I think it meshes well with the game’s style.

Alright, so what are my final thoughts on the game? I definitely enjoyed it, but it certainly had a fair bit of issues. The camera is too zoomed out during most fights, there’s a lack of meaningful side-content, the combat can get repetitive, and some of the new gaming styles aren’t the best.

That being said, the story for the game is pretty fantastic. The cut-scenes are rendered in an interesting way, and I loved the old-school “Travis Strikes Back” sequences. The visuals and sound are both stellar, and each level has a unique feel to it. There’s more enemy variety than in previous games, and the inclusion of all these nods to other games is fantastic.

I liked this game, but I find it hard to recommend to most people. If you’re looking for an action game, than there are certainly worse choices out there. Travis Strikes Again won’t rock your world, or change the way you view action games. It’s a weird, surreal, and interesting experience that builds off of Suda’s massive catalog of work.

Calling it a bad game would be doing a disservice to the hard work that went into it, but it certainly has glaring flaws. I recommend this game mostly to people who love Suda’s work and want to see No More Heroes 3, and also to those who just love surreal Japanese games. As for me, I’m going to play through the game again. After all, I gotta get all those secrets I missed!

The League of Legends Advertising Is Starting To Get Ridiculous

Commercials and advertising are an important thing for any kind of intellectual property, business, or franchise. Getting your name out there is beneficial to gaining more revenue and attention, which in turn helps you grow your fan-base. I’m not against advertising in any way, but I’d be lying if I didn’t think advertising could go too far at times. A good example of this is the animated commercials for “League of Legends”, which have to be some of my least favorite advertisements of all time.

Please keep mind that I’m not trying to put down League of Legends or its fan-base with this post. I just really don’t like its advertising, that’s all. I’m a huge fan of animation, but even I can’t deny how bland these advertisements are. Most of the animated commercials lack any sort of consistent style, and all appear to be made by different animators. On paper, this doesn’t sound so bad. The problem is that all these animators approach animation and tone differently, resulting in an inconsistent style for most of these advertisements.

For example, some commercials are styled like Japanese anime, while others are presented as animatic-style Flash animations. This results in most commercials having no real correlation with each other, due to them all being so vastly different. It probably doesn’t help that some of them seem to lie about the game, or don’t properly portray it correctly.

You see, League of Legends is a “MOBA”, which stands for “Multiplayer Online Battle Arena”. It’s similar to a MMORPG, but lacking the vast open-world and quests of one. Instead of questing across a fantasy world, you do battle on an arena with teams of players. The game itself relies on good coordination and teamwork in order to achieve victory.

Thing is, some advertisements choose to portray the game differently. A good example is the video below, which tries to make the game seem more like a MMORPG. You have players exploring the world and having adventures, while fighting other players. In truth, there are no real adventures to be had in this game.

League of Legends mostly exists as a competitive game┬ánowadays, which the commercial does a poor job of demonstrating. Several other League of Legends ads rely on really bad comedy, which results in a lot of jokes just missing the mark. Most of them contain silly voices, awkward editing, or a lack of any real comedic hook. I know comedy is subjective, but I always found these “comedic” advertisements to really lack any punch.

I’ve harped a lot on the advertisements themselves, but they are really only part of the problem. The real issue I have with them is the frequency in which they get shown, since I often get barraged by them way too often. League of Legends has many of these adverts, which will often by shoved into your face as you try to watch a video on YouTube.

I have no problem with YouTube advertisements, but I get a sick of them constantly shoving the same commercials for the same game down my gullet all the time. It’s especially weird since I never watched any League of Legends videos before today, so there would be little reason for YouTube’s strange algorithm to put them in front of me. I haven’t even played the game in the years, since it was never really my type of genre.

I’ve heard rumors that the reason the advertising is so gratuitous is due to the game starting to die. It wouldn’t surprise me, considering League of Legends is nearly past its expiration date. The game has been around for almost 10 years now, and is mostly kept alive by its competitive scene. Most online games only last about 3-10 years, so I can’t see the game continuing much past this point.

Again, I’ve got nothing against advertising a game. The key problem is that the advertising is too in-your-face and inconsistent. When you have over a dozen different animators/animation teams all producing their own vision, then things are bound to get problematic. I feel that having a unified vision could help the advertising in the long run, but I doubt that will ever happen. Oh well, at least it’s not one of the worst advertising campaigns I’ve seen…

 

Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition Review

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Good to see that 2002 is still alive and well!

Dungeons & Dragons is a game that is powered by the imagination and creativity of those who play it. It’s a board-game that has stood the test of time and continued to get many new iterations, while inventing the whole “RPG” genre. As you can tell, I am a huge fan of “D&D”, despite not playing much of the game myself. I never really had the patience to sit down and play a complex board-game, but I was always up for partaking in various adaptations of the game!

I loved that silly and weird Dungeons & Dragons cartoon, that overtly campy live-action film, and those downright hilarious D&D parodies made by the “Deadale Wives”. While those are all great, I prefer video-game adaptations of D&D the most! D&D has had many game adaptations, such as the extremely popular “Baldur’s Gate” series.

Set in the “Forgotten Realms” world of D&D, Baldur’s Gate was an attempt to bring the popular board-game to life in a whole new way. It was an RPG based heavily upon old-school D&D, drawing upon its many rules and mechanics to help build the experience. As a result, Baldur’s Gate felt like a worthwhile adaptation of both classic D&D and The Forgotten Realms.

Baldur’s Gate was made by Bioware, who was a brand new company at the time. They’re work on Baldur’s Gate propelled them into the limelight, making them a household name in the process. Baldur’s Gate did so well that they cranked out a fantastic sequel, right before following it up with an amazing expansion pack. Naturally, people loved the Baldur’s Gate games and wanted more.

Bioware was eventually handed the D&D license once more, but decided to make a completely different game this time around. Instead of doing a third Baldur’s Gate game, they ended up creating a spiritual successor to an older D&D game. Before Baldur’s Gate was released, there was a game called “Neverwinter Nights”. The game was unique in that it was the first ever “MMORPG”, paving the way for similar games like “EverQuest” and “Ultima Online”.

While the game itself shut down its servers in 97, Bioware decided to revive it in a way that nobody was expecting. Bioware brought us a new “Neverwinter Nights” game in 2002; one that was completely unrelated to the original. This game was unique and touted by trailers as a “Multiplayer Revolution”.

Neverwinter Nights 2002 set itself apart from the original by being a game with a single-player campaign, which could also be played entirely with friends. The new Neverwinter Nights was originally built to be another MMORPG like its predecessor, but Bioware had run out of time during development. They decided to make a rather formulaic story mode instead, while also adding in multiplayer and releasing the development tools to the players.

The game was a head of its time, as it was one of the first to embrace player-made content. In fact, the game was mostly known for its fan-made content. It was revolutionary in helping develop the game-modding scene, and really broke ground when it came to how such content was made. It also helps that the community who helped make these great mods were allowed to work on “Premium Modules”, which were essentially miniature expansions you had to pay for.

The system worked, and Neverwinter Nights enjoyed success for several years. However, this didn’t stop the server list from getting removed, or support for the game being discontinued. This all changed in 2018, when the game studio known as “Beamdog” decided to release a newer version of the game that runs better on modern computers. This version of the game was called “Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition”.

This is the first version of the game I ever played, due to having never found the game in stores. It also doesn’t help that most of the older versions of the game are incompatible with modern computers. Thanks to Beamdog, I was able to properly experience this game for the first time!

So, what is this game like? Well, it’s certainly a grand experiment in game design, that’s for certain! While the game’s story mode is lacking, its endless amount of user-based content and premium modules make up for it. The Enhanced Edition comes with “Steam Workshop” support, which allows for the easy usage of various mods. Using mods with Steam Workship is as easy as a simple click of the mouse, making the installation of said mods a simple task.

On top of this, all mods and modules are treated as separate “campaigns”. What this means is that since almost every mod is its own thing, so you don’t have to worry about installing too many mods and causing the game to break. The game itself plays like your typical MMORPG, CRPG, or Dungeons & Dragons game. You click the enemy to attack, can use potions or abilities in battle, and can level up at your leisure.

It’s a pretty basic system, but the wide array of skills and abilities available make up for the simplicity. There are several classes and races to choose from, some of which have an impact on how you interact with NPCs. For example, choosing a “Half-Orc” as your playable character will give you “dumb” dialogue choices. On top of this, various characters in the game will often react in hilarious ways to your unintelligent dialogue.

I really wish modern games had this level of creativity when it comes to creating interesting characters. Speaking of modern games and how they do things; Neverwinter Nights is certainly lacking in some areas. I don’t just mean the horribly dated graphics, which I still find to be rather awesome after all these years! I’m talking about how the game’s mechanics are handled.

One such mechanic is the “Teleport Stone”, a magical stone that’ll warp you back to the temple. Once you’re back in the temple you can heal up, sell some stuff, and then teleport back to where you left off. The problem? The stone can be easily abused, so you can warp in and out of combat with no consequence!

The cost to teleport back to your starting location is a measly 50 gold, so most combat situations quickly become trivial. That’s not to say the game is easy, since there are certainly some tough battles here or there. On the subject of toughness, let’s talk about that story I keep harping on.

You play as a graduate of “Neverwinter Academy”, which is a school for would-be warriors and adventurers. After an attack by an evil cult, you are given the task of hunting down a bunch of creatures in order to cure a plague. From there, the game extents into a much grander quest and its up to you to set things right.

It’s the same story we’ve seen in most fantasy games, though it does benefit a fair bit from being set in a D&D universe. The setting allows for some great monsters and encounters, as well as some interesting characters. In spite of its lackluster story, it does at least provide an engaging world to explore.

Thankfully, the expansion packs and Premium Modules make up for the lackluster story mode. They include many interesting stories and activities, such as entering a jousting tournament, becoming a pirate, or even escaping from the underworld itself! Couple this with a cavalcade of interesting party members and you have a game that elevates its quality with each new addition.

The main goal of Neverwinter Nights was pushing the envelope of what the engine was capable of. This is why all of these expansions and modules are so ambitious, it’s because they wanted to see what could do with the tools they had. The “Aurora” game engine used to power the game is old, but is variable enough in nature that it allows for some amazing things to be made.

The last thing I want to touch on is the multiplayer servers, which are the real draw of the game. There are so many custom servers made by fans, all of which allow for some fun and epic adventures. Most of said servers are essentially miniature MMORPGs, and allow the players to interact with each other and have adventures. While the game’s expansions and main quest all allow for multiplayer; it’s the MMO servers are the true pull of this game.

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Gary Gygax: Gone but never forgotten.

One such server I’ve spent a lot of time is “World of Intiquity”, which is an awesome MMO-like world. It had a ton of quests to do, items to collect, and adventures to go on. The drop rate for rare, unique, or magical items was also pretty high. This meant that I would often be rewarded with something nice and shiny after playing for a measly 10 minutes. The way Intiquity doled out rewards kept me engaged, even if I found myself dying quite a bit.

I know this gets said a lot about many games, but Neverwinter Nights feel less like a game and more like an “experience”. While its main story isn’t all that good, all of its supplementary content is truly interesting and engaging. The base game has hundreds of hours worth of content, while the player-made content helps expand that greatly.

There’s just so much to love about this slightly updated version of Neverwinter Nights, in spite of how old and outdated the game feels at times. I highly recommend this game to those that want to try a unique take on the MMO genre, or those who want to experience one of the first games to thrive on community-made content. It’s not a revolutionary game, and its certainly past its prime. Regardless of this, it’s still a fun time for those with the time to invest into it!

Destiny 2: Better Late Than Never Review

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Stupid shoulder-pads: The Video-Game

What happens when titans fall? They create an earthquake when they hit the ground! This is what happened nearly three weeks ago when the development studio known as “Blizzard Activision” bombed their convention presentation. Blizzard shot themselves in the foot at their event, (known as Blizzcon) by announcing a phone game based off their popular Diablo franchise.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal. However, they announced this rather small game on the stage usually reserved for big announcements. It also doesn’t help that they belittled the audience when they got booed, or that they acted like this little phone game would be some kind of “big seller”. Regardless, people were understandably annoyed with how Blizzard handled the situation.

This little stunt cost them billions of dollars, and made many investors lose faith in them. I bring all this up for one specific reason: Blizzard and Activision are trying really hard to do as much damage control as they can. This resulted in them purposefully leaking Diabo 4, a sequel to a game that most PC gamers would actually want.

However, one of the biggest things they did was make Destiny 2 free for a couple of weeks. Destiny 2 is a game that I would classify as “interesting”. Destiny 2 was a sequel to the first Destiny game, one of the most over-hyped games in the history of gaming. After it came out and underwhelmed audiences, while its developer “Bungie” kept trying to fix and improve the game.

However, these fixes were both good and bad. They fixed some of the more glaring issues, which included adding new PVP modes, new items and side-content, and actually like-able NPCs. However, it took forever for a lot of these fixes to be implemented. With each new expansion came new changes, which helped improve the game greatly. However, most people were understandably irked by the fact that they had to pay so much for a game that wasn’t even really finished.

To actually play what most fans considered to be the “good parts” of the story, you had to buy these expansions. Otherwise, you’re stuck with a very unsatisfying and incomprehensible story-line, one that only lasts a few hours at best. After releasing several expansions, Bungie and Activision decided to release a sequel. This sequel came a mere three years after the first game, and was met with a slightly higher reception than the first game.

That brings us to today’s subject, the controversial Destiny 2. I was never really interested in the Destiny franchise, but I finally decided to give this game a chance. After all, they just gave it out to everyone for free. So, why not dive into it and see what I was missing? Allow me to preface this by saying that I never actually played the first game, so this review is coming from a fresh and new perspective.

Destiny 2 takes place in a fictional sci-fi universe, revolving around a group of space heroes called “The Guardians”. The Guardians are magical immortals, given their powers by a giant floating planet-like thing called “The Traveler”. An evil alien named “Ghaul” has attacked earth and killed countless beings, all in an attempt to capture The Traveler. With The Traveler in his clutches, he steals “The Light” from The Guardians, which is effectively their power source. With their powers gone, Ghaul’s forces easily defeatsThe Guardians and takes control of the earth.

You play as a customizable Guardian who sets out to regain his Light, stop Ghaul, and collect a ton of rare and shiny items along the way. It’s a very basic plot, but it’s presented in a very poor way. The game does a terrible job of explaining who the characters are, how the universe works, or what The Traveler even is. I know this is a sequel, but I still found it hard to follow the plot. There’s also no in-game codex, so it’s hard to look up info on what happened in the previous game while playing.

There’s so much that goes unexplained through much of the game, to the point where it’s almost hilarious. The story is the weakest part of the game, that’s for sure. What about the game-play itself? Well, the game itself is fun to play, at least for the most part. The game is a First-Person Shooter/ Role-Playing Game hybrid. The game focuses primarily on gun-play, fighting various enemies, and gaining shiny new pieces of equipment.

Let’s start with the game’s gun-play and combat, which is its main focus. It’s pretty good, and features very responsive controls. There’s nothing “unique” or “revolutionary” about the combat, but it gets the job done. Shooting giant alien monsters is satisfying, even if the enemy AI isn’t very smart. Enemies will often just stand there and shoot at you, or occasionally charge at you.

The few times the combat becomes challenging is when you are forced to face a near infinite amount of enemies at once, or when you’re facing a boss with a ton of health. As long as you’re constantly changing out your equipment for new stuff, you’ll never really bump into a challenge that’s too much for you. Even the final boss was kind of a joke, as I was able to take him out fairly easily.

The biggest draw of this game is its “loot”, the gear you obtain by fighting the aforementioned enemies. You’ll constantly be fighting tons of nameless monsters in order to get these items, only to find that they look terrible. The problem with a lot of gear is that you’ll often find stuff with better stats, but it’ll make you look ugly as sin. I can’t tell you how many stupid-looking shoulder-pads I found, or how often I had to wear them just to get their stat benefits.

Sure, you can “Infuse” your weaker gear with something of higher stats. This allows you to wear something that both looks cool and is sufficiently powerful. The problem is that you need several different items to be able to infuse your gear, with the items changing depending on the rarity of said items. This means you’ll need to farm a ton of useless items to infuse your gear, some of which you may never have any real use for.

Defeating enemies isn’t the only way to obtain gear and items, there are plenty of activities in the game that can reward you such items. There are “Public Events”, which are basically special trials that happen somewhere on the map. Any player on the map can engage in them, resulting in most nearby players working together to complete them. Upon completion, you’ll receive a smattering of random items as a reward.

Unfortunately, Public Events are lacking in variety. There’s only a few on each map, and most of them are copied and pasted from the previous planets you visited. There are also “Adventures” and “Quests”, which tend to be fairly boring side-quests that don’t offer much in terms of world-building. There are also Strikes, which are large missions that require 3 players. These are surprisingly tough, and require you to have a lot of good gear in order to properly beat them.

And your reward for wearing more powerful gear to complete these missions is… Even more powerful gear. This is one of Destiny 2’s biggest problems, it’s constant need to shower you in gear. I’ve complained a lot about the loot system and how it functions in the game, but that’s because collecting loot is the game’s biggest draw.

The story is lackluster, most side-quests are forgettable, and most of the cast is fairly bland. Destiny 2 is an undeniably fun game, but it relies too much on gimmicks in order to pad out its run-time. When 90% of your game’s content is superfluous and forgettable, then maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board.

The last thing I want to touch on is the games “Micro-transactions”, which involving nickle-and-diming the fans for everything their worth. You see, there is an in-game store called “Eververse”. In order to buy some of the rare items from said store, you’ll need a fake currency called “Silver”. As typical with a lot of modern games, you can only get Silver by buying it with in-game cash.

Thankfully, most of the Eververse stuff is cosmetic. It’s still annoying that so much of the cooler-looking things are gated behind paywalls, which is pretty annoying if you’re one of the people who have already paid full-price for the game itself. Sure, it’s superfluous content, but it’s also content you have to shell out a ton of money for.

To sum up my opinions, Destiny 2 is alright. It’s a game that focuses more on drowning its player-base in forgettable side-content, rather than making an experience everyone can enjoy. The story is bland, despite its stellar cinematics. On top of this, the game lacks any uniqueness in its structure. I know a lot of what I’ve said has already been echoed by a lot of other players.

However, I’d be doing a disservice to my audience by just glancing over the game’s many faults. To me, this is a “middle-of-the-road” game. The game is fun, but gets extremely boring fast. This is due to its lack of variety and its boring missions. Destiny 2 left very little impact on me, resulting in me uninstalling the game shortly after beating it.

I don’t hate what I played, but I can’t say I found it enthralling either. Destiny 2 is a middling game, one that I wouldn’t normally have played. The fact that I got it for free is what got me playing it, but the game’s mediocre nature kept me from continuing past that. The amazing graphics and sound did little to win me over. I suggest only getting this game if it’s on sale, or if they offer it for free again. I’d say it’s not a game worth paying full price for, or engaging in its shady micro-transactions.

Fallout New Vegas: “Fallout 76 Experience” Mod Review

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Fruity Bird: A man with a stupid name, who also happens to take a stupid amount of punishment.

Well, Fallout 76 is almost upon us. The release is just five months away, and people are clamoring for what they think will be the “greatest online experience ever”. Well, you no longer have to wait! Why? It’s all because one fan decided to make a mod to emulate that “authentic” online game-play. As a result, we’re gifted with one of the greatest mods of all time: The Fallout 76 Experience!

The main premise of this mod is simple: It emulates a MMORPG experience by filling the game-world with NPCs based off the kinds of people you’d find playing online games. These are the kinds of players who like to spam garbage memes, attack you for no reason at all, and generally try to ruin your day. In essence, this is probably what Fallout 76 will become.

These NPCs are all over the game, and you’ll encounter dozens of them upon installing the mod and starting a new game. Each NPC is more terrible than the last, and will often shout obscenities at you while trying to bludgeon you to death. Heck, one NPC blasts the “Thomas The Tank Engine” theme song nonstop in the starting town!

There’s a lot of craziness like that in the mod. For example, one NPC named “Fruity Bird” (pictured above) attacked me inside the giant dinosaur attraction in Novac. This insane NPC shouted obscenities at me, while wearing a space-suit and trying to punch me to death. What was truly awesome about this NPC is that he feels like he was designed by a player who has zero idea on how to build a character.

His defense stats are through the roof, but his attacks are weak and meaningless. This means that he can take a lot of damage, but can barely dish it out. Sadly, you’ll run into a lot of people like this in a true online game. That’s what makes this mod truly amazing, it’s a multiplayer game without actually having multiplayer in it. All the “players” you run into are NPCs (Non-Player Characters) programmed to either charge at you, stand around pointlessly, or gang up on you alongside other NPCs.

Despite the simplistic nature of the mod, it crafts a more entertaining experience than the last New Vegas mod I reviewed. The New Vegas multiplayer mod was lacking in the fun department, being a broken system where factions rule and solo players can’t hope to stand a chance. At least with this mod, the NPC “players” won’t get in your way as much.

Honestly, I had more fun with just 10 minutes of this mod, than I ever did with the 3 hours I spent with the multiplayer mod. Of course, I’d love if New Vegas had a truly good multiplayer mod. That being said, I like that this mod emulates what an online Fallout would be like.

Let’s be real, Fallout 76 will probably be the same as the “Fallout 76 Experience” mod. I can picture it now, people running around, spouting memes, and shoot anything that moves. It’s truly the kind of online experience I can get invested in! Well, not really, but at least I can get some items from destroying these NPCs. In the end, it’s the loot that really matters!

Fallout New Vegas: Multiplayer Mod Review

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It’s just like regular New Vegas, except everyone will kill you on sight and half of them will most likely be illiterate!

How does one define insanity? How about putting a bunch of internet dorks in a post-apocalypse, and having them nuke each other to oblivion. No, I’m not talking about Fallout 76, but rather the multiplayer mod for Fallout: New Vegas! It’s a rather new mod, and lacking in quite a few essential features. So yeah, this game is a very rough work work-in-progress. With that being said, let’s talk about it!

For those of you who don’t know, Fallout: New Vegas was an open-world RPG/FPS hybrid released in 2010 for PC and all the current-gen consoles at the time. The game took place in the nuclear apocalypse, and served as more of a direct sequel to Fallout 2 than Fallout 3 was. About a year and a half ago, fans got together and decided to finally give Fallout: New Vegas something that fans have been clamoring for: Online multiplayer!

Unfortunately, Fallout: New Vegas’ multiplayer mod is way too flawed to be fun. First of all, the game crashes A LOT. Fallout New Vegas is already a fairly unstable game, but adding multiplayer makes it even worse. The game crashes at the most inopportune and nonsensical times. It crashes when you’re in a fight, when your talking to people, or even when your exiting the game.

That’s not even the worst part of the mod, sadly. So, you’d think the online multiplayer component would be the main selling point. After all, playing Fallout with your friends is supposed to be fun! Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for this mod. The problem here is that every time you die in the game, you lose all your gear and stats. This wouldn’t normally be a bad thing, but the problem is that it’s a PVP game.

More often than not, players will just kill you and steal all your items. For example, there was one user who killed me in a town, while using a rocket launcher. This town was Freeside, which for some reason isn’t a safe-zone. You’d think Freeside and the neighboring city of New Vegas would both be safe zones, because they are the most important locations in the game. Well, I guess the makers of this mod didn’t think so.

So, this user murdered me with a rocket launcher and took all my stuff. He then spouted off a nonsense meme, in an attempt to sound like a badass. Sadly, there’s more than one annoying belligerent user in this game. During one of my gameplay experiences, I heard various complaints from people being nuked constantly in the starting town of Primm. While I get that this is supposed to be a PVP game, it’s so unfairly balanced and poorly programmed that it’s only fun to people who already have good gear.

People who join factions get all these benefits and bonuses, while solo players are often cannon fodder for the various groups in the game. As soon as you make any sort of progress, there’s an angry player-killer around the corner ready to steal it out from under you. It takes you out of the experience, because you have to be wary of pretty much any other user you run into.

The game feels like it’s setup more for griefing and exploiting, rather than having fun. The aspect that I liked the least out of all of them is the character customization, or lack thereof. You see, you are stuck with a template character when you boot up the game. You can’t pick your stats, looks, or traits. Pretty much anything you can acquire in the game is forfeit once you die anyways, so I guess customization is a fruitless endeavor all around.

So, I’ve complained a lot about this mod, but is there anything good about it? Well, you can exploit the game for cheap and easy level-ups by entering The Tops casino, logging out, and then going back in. Also, you skip most of the early portions of the game, and don’t have to bother with the story. Other than that, the mod is very bare bones and offers little in the way of fun.

You want a good Fallout MMO? You could wait for Fallout 76, that may be good. There’s also another fan-made Fallout online experience, called “FOnline: Reloaded”. It’s based off the first 2 Fallout games, and lets you keep all your stuff when you die. It’s actually fun to play, focuses more on the RPG elements, and doesn’t cut out your customization completely. Honestly, it’s the better game in almost every way.

So, should you play the Fallout: New Vegas Multiplayer mod? No, don’t bother. This game is pure annoyance, lacking any of the qualities that made the original game good. Just play the single-player game if you have it, do not bother with this broken mess. If you are interested, I’d suggest waiting a year or two and see if there are any improvements by then.

In FV:MP’s current state, it is not fun and its not playable. You’d be better off playing any other Fallout game in the series, even Fallout 4. The mod may improve, it may not. It depends entirely on the people working on it, and how they choose to craft the mod moving forward. If it stays in its broken state, I can’t imagine too many people continuing to stick around.

Ready Player One Review: A Good, Yet Very Flawed Film

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“And I got long legs, very very long legs!”

I know I’m technically a month late to this, but I recently saw Ready Player One. This is one of the biggest nerd movies to come out this year, and it ended up getting a lot of buzz because of it. I thought I’d finally give my two cents on the movie, and what I thought of Steven Spielberg’s “newest” movie. The film revolves around this young man named Wade Watts, a guy who enters a MMORPG named “The Oasis”.

Wade plays the game in an attempt to obtain the ultimate “Easter Egg”, an extremely hard to find and obscure secret that will let the winner inherit a vast fortune. Along the way, he has to deal with the corporate goons at “IOI”, the various trials to get the special keys, and fighting his own romantic feelings for a woman he just met. Of course, the plot wasn’t the main draw of this film.

What really drew people to the movie was the egregious product-placement. By product placement, I don’t mean that they shoved a Pepsi Machine or a Taco Bell in there. I’m referring to the film’s various cameos and references, all of which are from hundreds of different franchises. This film features tons and tons of things that nerds will remember, essentially making it one massive crossover between all these properties.

Games like VRChat, and to a lesser extent Miitopia also had this gimmick going for them. Unfortunately, the nerd references kind of work against this film quite a bit. The film is packed with way too many references, to the point where the film lacks an identity. Most of the cool stuff in the movie only happens in The Oasis, while the real world stuff is always boring and tedious in this film. Worse still, most of the epic action sequences during The Oasis sequences involve the characters and things that were made by other people.

The film is the cinematic equivalent of knocking two action figures together and having them fight. The film definitely excels in bringing that kind of experience to table, but squanders it in other areas. One thing that I felt was holding the movie back was its protagonist. Wade Watts is a young man who is somehow one of the greatest players in The Oasis.

It’s never explained why he is so skilled at the game, he just kind of is. There’s no backstory behind how he came up with the character, the struggles to get this far, nothing. When the movie began, I felt like I was watching a sequel that was just barely explaining the first film. Most of the explanation goes towards the world, story, and setup. Not so much the characters and how they got to where they were.

At times, Wade feels like a character who was meant to act as an avatar for an audience, to help them get used to this crazy world. Unfortunately, Wade ends up coming off as insufferable. He’s way too overpowered at in the game, and has very few flaws. The few flaws he has are easily and quickly shoved aside, so that the movie can show us how great he is at games.

While he does struggle in certain parts of the film, he just as easily finds a way to overcome them. Both in real-life and in the game, Wade manages to skirt past dangerous and life-ending situations in some of the most nonsensical and plot convenient ways. There’s even a part where something really tragic happens to him in the movie, but he rarely brings it up aside from one or two instances. He doesn’t even really seem that sad about it, which feels like bad writing if you ask me.

The villain isn’t much better, due mostly to how he is portrayed in the film. The main adversary was a generic businessman, one who was so bland and formulaic that I couldn’t even remember his name by the end of it. To put things in perspective, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World had 7 different villains, all of which had personalities and were memorable. I could remember all their names, and tell you 3 things about each of them. The kicker is that most of those villains only appeared for about 3-10 minutes each.

In this film, the villain is just kind of there. Unfortunately, you’ll notice that this is kind of a trend with a lot of Spielberg films directed at children and teenagers. Earlier, I said that this was Spielberg’s “newest” film, with “newest” being in quotations. The reasons for this is simple, Spielberg’s directing and writing style for films aimed at younger audiences is a bit too bland.

Most of these films are aimed at kids/teens and have Spielberg’s usual plot outline associated with them: Young man with big dreams is forced to on an adventure, while being chased by some big organization or the government. The young man meets an enigmatic figure, befriends an unlikely group of friends, and then goes on a quest to make his dreams come true. That’s basically the plot of Ready Player One, E.T., and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.

Now, if this were just the first time he’s done it, this wouldn’t be a problem. The thing is that this appears to be one of the only kinds of films that Spielberg knows how to write, since he seems to think that it’s all teens and kids enjoy. Meanwhile, the films Spielberg makes for adults are his true masterpieces, where more of his effort seems to go. Which gives me the feeling that Spielberg seems to have more respect for his older movie-going audience, more-so than the younger audience that sees his other films like E.T. and Hook.

With all that being said, does this mean I hate the movie? Not at all, I actually got it was pretty good. Not a truly great film by any stretch of the imagination, but one that is a fairly fun watch throughout. The effects are great, as are the action scenes. Despite the films severe lack of originality and uniqueness, the way the various parts of this world are designed are just nice to look at.

The opening to this film reminded me a lot of the opening to Summer Wars, both of which were brimming with strange worlds and oddities. The Oasis is basically one big mashup of everything in nerd culture, and it just works well. Fight sequences are also bad-ass and awesome, and are the center-point of this film.

Even though I wasn’t a huge fan of the protagonist or villain, I dug several of the side characters. Aech was probably one of my favorites, being the main character’s sassy best friend in The Oasis. I also dug Daito and Sho, two recurring characters who’s game personas have this awesome Japanese vibe going on. There was also i-R0k, a recurring henchman for the main antagonist, one who I found to be a very silly and endearing nerd character.

Also, as intrusive as the references are, they kind of do spice up the film at times. It’s fun to see your favorite hero or villain suddenly show up in the background, or a famous movie character deciding to attack our heroes. The second key challenge felt like it spent too much time on retelling a well-known movie in a short amount of time, but was enjoyable enough that it didn’t feel too stale.

By far, the best character was James Halliday. He’s a socially awkward weirdo, one who created a vast financial empire through the creation of his games. I’d say more, but I don’t want to spoil the whole film for the few that haven’t see it yet. I think it’s about time I summed up my thoughts on what I thought of the film, since the post is long enough already.

Ready Player One is a good film, but mired by formulaic writing and its overabundance of product placement. It’s a solid experience, despite its flaws. Just be warned, what you’re getting is basically a mishmash of all these franchises you’re already invested in. It’s not going to rock your world, or revolutionize the way you see film.

It’s just another Spielberg film, albeit one that has a lot of effort and passion put into it at times. If you’re interested in nerd culture at all, I suggest at least giving it a watch if you get the chance. However, if you’re not a nerd, then I’m sure this movie won’t do much for you in terms of entertainment.

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Yep, that’s a poster for a Spielberg movie alright.

ReBoot: The Guardian Code Review

The 90s was a unique time for television, an experimental age where all kinds of new and crazy concepts for TV shows were brought to life. Shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Friends, the English dub of Dragon Ball Z, Shadow Raiders, The Maxx, and Cybersix populated this era of experimentation. However, there was one show that is often considered to be one of the most revolutionary cartoons to come out in this decade: ReBoot.

Made by the guys who did the CGI for the “Money For Nothing” music video, comes the first fully CGI cartoon ever. ReBoot took place inside a computer and revolved around a program named “Bob”, who was essentially an antivirus known as a “Guardian”. Bob made friends with the spunky young Enzo, and his sister Dot. Along with a stable cast of other likable characters, our heroes went on adventures through cyberspace in order to defend the computer world of “Mainframe” from evil computer viruses.

The show was fun, entertaining, and matured along with its audience. Starting off as a typical kids show, it eventually blossomed into a dark and emotional roller-coaster. While the fourth season dropped the ball a bit, it was still an entertaining experience from start to finish. Unfortunately, the season ended on an unresolved cliffhanger.

People who were enjoying the fourth season were left in the dust, when the planned third TV movie was cancelled. With no continuation from the TV front, the story was continued in comic form. Unfortunately, the comic was very unsatisfying, at least in terms of what it was trying to do with the world and characters. Not even the return of obscure fan-favorite character “Code-Master Lens” could save this comic for me.

The comic ended up being a bland continuation that lacked thrills and was resolved rather haphazardly. There was also a trilogy that was planned to continue the story, but it was ultimately cancelled. Another cancelled project was a planned spin-off, which was to be titled “Binomes”. This spin-off was aimed towards a younger audience, but never made it past early planning stages.

With the exception of a few rather awesome art-books (one of which I’ve reviewed on this very blog), ReBoot remained a dormant franchise… Until just a few years ago. A ReBoot continuation was announced and fans were excited! However, photos emerged from the reboot of ReBoot in late 2017. Suffice to say, fans were not impressed by it. It featured a ton of characters we never saw before, most of whom were generic teenagers and weird Power Ranger-esque superheroes.

When the trailer hit a month ago, fans were “treated” to their first glimpse of “ReBoot: The Guardian Code”. What they got was not what they were expecting at all. Instead of an entertaining kids show about a group of computer programs dealing with a deadly virus, it’s now about teenagers transforming into superheroes and fighting crime in cyberspace.

Yes, this series shifted genres from a fun cartoon filled to the brim with computer lingo, to a poor man’s version of Code Lyoko. Heck, even the creator of Code Lyoko thought they were ripping him off! Now, going off the trailers alone, I assumed this show was going to be terrible. However, I decided to gave the series the benefit of the doubt.

After all, few networks had faith in the original ReBoot back in the 90s. CGI was pretty new at the time, and no one really wanted to invest in a cartoon that had a radically different animation style than more contemporary shows. Still, ReBoot managed to prove itself as a fantastic show all the same.

Despite its generic premise, I went into the new show with the false hope that they would somehow surprise me and create something entertaining. I hate to say this, but I was completely and totally wrong. Before I trash on this show, let’s start off with the good. Most of the original voice cast is back, which is nice.

Some voice actors had to be replaced, such as the late great Tony Jay as Megabyte. His new voice actor Timothy Brummund does a decent job, but you can tell what he wasn’t given a whole lot to work with script-wise. I liked that the designs from returning characters are kept mostly the same, even if they barely appeared. I also dig the virtual form of V.E.R.A., due to it’s simplicity when compared to the designs of the main characters’ virtual avatars.

That’s about all the good I can find, as this show is pretty flawed throughout. The show revolves around these teenagers who accidentally bring V.E.R.A. into the real world, who then recruits them to travel into cyberspace to face Megabyte. Yes, Megabyte is back and he’s been upgraded to look sufficiently ridiculous.

They show his original design, right before turning him into this glowing buff monstrosity. He looks more like Gigabyte than Megabyte, which is a bit disappointing in my opinion. You can tell the redesigned characters just don’t gel well, as a lot of the designs from the original were done by seasoned comic book artists. They knew how to make a design pop, which is something this show has a problem with.

Now, it’s bad enough that Megabyte looks like garbage, but he also comes off way less intimidating than in the original show. By the third season, Megabyte had pretty much won and was only defeated by the show’s heroes coming together to stop. Season 4 ends with Megabyte not only returning, but also winning once more! In this show, Megabyte had already been both deactivated and defeated by the time the hacker found him.

Once brought back online and upgraded to maximum potential, what’s the first thing he does? Blast a few lasers at Frisket, that’s it. He’s then reprogrammed and controlled by some hacker, which means he’s not really a virus anymore. He’s a program, because viruses aren’t directly controlled by users themselves. This show can’t even follow the most basic rules set by the original, can it?

So, this show’s new villain is this generic hacker guy, as opposed to the Megabyte we all know and love. He doesn’t really do anything that interesting, aside from sending other people to do his bidding. Megabyte constantly gets thrashed in almost every episode, which means that he was more of a threat when he was a free agent. This is a guy who brought down an entire system, now he can’t even defeat a few teenagers.

Oh yeah, forgot about those old characters that we grew to know and love. These guys are our new “heroes”, despite the fact they are all very bland. They all have generic suits, generic powers, and generic personalities. You got the smart guy, the leader, the girl, etc. They are much less interesting than the vast cast the show used to have. You can’t tell me that the forgettable protagonist Austin is any better than Bob from the original show, since he lacks all the nuance and interesting characteristics that Bob had.

Now, before I end this off, I’ll go into what I think is the worst part of the show. So far, they’ve put out 10 episodes of the first season on Netflix. I ended up using the American Netflix at a friend’s house to watch the show, since they’re going to air the episodes in Canada last. Why? Since YTV is a Canadian-only network, and they need something to air between episodes of Spongebob. Now, this isn’t what I find to be the worst part.

The worst part is that out of these 10 episodes they put up, the original ReBoot gang only appear in one episode. Can you guess which one? It’s not the first, second, or even the fifth episode. They do not appear at all (aside from Frisket and Megabyte), UNTIL THE TENTH EPISODE. That’s right, this ReBoot show barely shows anything relating to the original series until the halfway point of the first season.

This series also shows us the User for the first time ever, portraying him as a ReBoot fan who lives in his mother’s basement and has no friends. Wow, way to insult your entire fan-base, Mainframe. The worst part isn’t even The User though, it’s Bob and friends. Despite Bob being voiced by his original voice actor, he’s not the same character. The CGI makes me look like a zombie, like a reanimated corpse. His lines are also terrible, forced, and contrived.

One of the first things he says in the series is his speech that he gave in the original show’s intro, to a random group of Guardians that he has never met before. I’m serious, this actually happens. There are many other problems I could go over, such as the bad CGI, bad acting for the human characters, lack of proper continuity with the original show, and many others. I feel if I were to go over every problem, then I’d be writing a book on this show, which is something I don’t really want to do.

I want to conclude by saying to not watch this show. It has little to do with the original and feels like it was only made to sell toys. None of the original staff work on this, aside from a few returning voice actors. I watched this show out of love for the original series, but now I feel I should’ve heeded the lacking quality of the trailers and stayed away.

I know people will enjoy this show, I’m not trying to stop anyone from doing so. If you like Guardian Code and think it’s a great show, then that’s fine. We all have our tastes and interests. The thing is that I can just not get into this series. It fails as a continuation, it fails as its own thing, and it fails at emulating the original ReBoot.

I suggest sticking solely to the original, as I feel there’s not a whole lot on offer in this new series. Watch Tron, Code Lyoko, or Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad if you want a show that does this superhero premise better. As for me, I’ll keep watching this show, mostly out of morbid curiosity. Considering how off-kilter the episode with the original ReBoot cast was, I’m curious to see what they mess up next. In short, this show is like a train-wreck in slow-motion, it’s very hard to look away from.

VRChat Game Review: A Beautiful Mess of A Digital Chatroom

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The best place to watch anime is in “Space Japan”, AKA Seisoken City!

Something that has gotten traction as of late is “Virtual Reality”. While this has been a concept in movies, TV-shows, and literature, the general concepts of VR hadn’t been defined until recent years. Modern VR is in its infancy, and there aren’t a whole lot of fun games out for the platform yet. Still, developers are trying their hardest to put some unique and memorable experiences out for the hardware.

This brings us to one of the most popular VR games in recent memory: VRChat. This game is essentially a virtual chat-room, not unlike that of “Second Life”. The key difference between the two is the inclusion of Virtual Reality, which is what gives VRChat a bit of an advantage.

Being able to pop on a headset and get immersed in a virtual world is something I’ve been interested in ever since watching the “.Hack//Sign” anime back in the early 2000s. VRChat is looking to capitalize on the experiences present in that show and similar franchises, by presenting the player with a massive virtual world to interact with.

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I’m getting some early 2000s anime flashbacks from this.

Sadly, VRChat is a gigantic mess in its current state. For one thing, there’s not a whole lot to do. You can walk around, pick stuff up, talk to people, and play the occasional mini-game. Aside from that, the experience is pretty bare-bones. Sure, the game is still in Early Access, meaning that it’s not fully complete yet. Despite this, I feel like the game won’t change all that much upon full release.

This is especially annoying, since the game is essentially a “MMOG”, a Massively Multiplayer Online Game. If the game continues to lack varied content, it’s not going to be able to hold the attention of the large audience it recently gained. A MMO lives and dies by its ability to retain an audience, which a lot of online games tend to have problems with nowadays. To be fair, this game is known as a “Virtual Chat-Room”, meaning it’s more of a space for just talking to people.

And sure, it’d probably be your kind of thing if you just want to chat. Unfortunately, VRChat also has problems in this area as well. You’ll often run into people spouting memes, verbally attacking other users, or people just screaming as loud as they can into their microphone. Now, this normally wouldn’t be as big of a problem, as most online games have this.

However, when most of what you can do in a game is often spoiled by trolls or people just pestering you, it can get annoying. I’m not saying all the players are like this, but several people do tend to do this a lot. There’s quite a few people who like to break the rules of the game and are often able to get away with it. This is because the mods aren’t really good at their jobs. They’ll often ban people for the dumbest of reasons, and let the actual rule-breakers get away with whatever they want.

For example, you can get banned just for pointing out how bad the mods are at what they do. I get that being a moderator on anything is difficult, but mods should have thicker skin than that. So, I’ve brought up a lot of bad things about this game, but what about the good? Surprisingly, this game does do a fair bit of things I like.

For example, it fully endorses player-made content. These include character skins, entire maps, and custom soundtracks for said maps. Almost 90% of the stuff you’ll see in the game was handcrafted entirely by players, which is actually pretty awesome. I can’t tell you how cool it is to walk around the futuristic “Seisoken City”, or venture into a recreation of “Kami’s Tower” from Dragon Ball.

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It still amazes me that places like this exist in the game. It’s so beautiful!

Not only do these worlds look good, but they all have a unique feel to them. For example, Seisoken City boasts a ton of massive screens that play non-stop anime clips and J-Pop music videos. Meanwhile, you may venture into a completely different city-scape and happen across all of weird real-world advertising.

You can also visit these worlds with any custom skin currently available, essentially allowing you to traverse these lands as your favorite character. I can’t begin to tell you how awesome it was to venture through an expansive city as a gigantic monkey! It was like King Kong, but mixed with anime and randomness.

Unfortunately, getting character skins can be very annoying. Every time you log off, your character skin disappears. If you want to wear anything other than a generic template skin, then you have to run all the way back to that specific world. You must then equip that skin again, if you want it back.

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“Behold my giant monkey… FORM!”

Still, the shear variety of character skins is enough to make up for this. Name any kind of popular character from any well-known series, chances are that you can play as it in VRChat. The biggest thing VRChat has going for it is accessibility. Not only is it free, but you don’t need a VR headset to play it!

Let’s be real, VR is freaking expensive! VRChat circumvents this, by allowing you to play without a headset. This is great for people who can’t afford one, or are having issues with their headset. Plus, this allows people who are on the fence about VR to experience to give the medium shot. Heck, it might even sell some people on VR as a concept! On top of this, the game is also free. I doubt it’ll stay free, they’ll probably add micro-transactions once the game is finished. Hopefully, micro-transactions won’t ruin the flow of the game.

Here are my final thoughts on VRChat: It’s a beautiful mess. There’s barely anything to do, a fair amount of the community is toxic, and the mods are terrible at doing their job. Despite this, VRChat was able to fully immerse me, even without a VR headset! The beautifully designed worlds, the shear amount of character skins, and the ability to chat with your friends in a virtual space is the true selling point here.

While some of the interactions with random users can be less-than-savory, there’s still fun to be had. Seeing silly interactions between people role-playing as their favorite characters is surprisingly entertaining. I mean, once you’ve seen Agumon from Digimon get drunk with the Green Goblin, it’s hard to go back to regular games. Check VRChat out if you’re interested, just don’t expect too much out of it.

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Portals: The only way to travel in this game! Aside from walking everywhere, of course.